Tuesday 2nd April - Bircher Muesli , Bee Flies and a bit more about breathing

This Week's Class Notes... Muscles of Your Ribcage - The Intercostal, Serratus Anterior and Serratus Posterior Muscles

In my last blog post I wrote about the structure of the ribcage, how it moves as you breathe and how its function is to protect your heart and lungs. Let's take a look at the muscles of the ribcage now and how they help you breathe. There are quite a few of them and they join and overlap each other so, to avoid anatomy overwhelm, in this post we'll just focus on the intercostals, the serratus anterior and the serratus posteriors.

In between each of your ribs are your intercostal muscles - 11 of them on each side.  They are made up of 3 layers - external, internal and innermost. The function of the external intercostals is to lift the rib cage upwards as you inhale.  As you exhale the internal and innermost intercostals are responsible for drawing the rib cage down.  


At the sides of your ribcage are the serratus anterior muscles.  Attached to ribs 1-8 they fan out and wrap around the sides of the ribcage and underneath the shoulderblades where they insert onto the inner edge of each shoulderblade (otherwise known as the scapula). Their function is to move the shoulderblades forward and also to allow them to move upwards.


On the back of the ribcage are two sets of serratus posterior muscles.  At the top of the spine are the serratus posterior superior muscles which help to lift the top ribs during respiration.  Towards the bottom of the spine are the serratus posterior inferior muscles - they assist breathing by drawing the lower ribs down and they also help with extension and rotation of the trunk.


Are you still with me or have you glazed over?  I could never take in anatomy at school but now I find it fascinating.  I love how yoga has helped me to become more aware of how my body moves and works. The more I learn, the more I appreciate and have gratitude for it. I hope that yoga has done this for you too. 


This Week's Recipe... Apple and Raspberry Bircher Muesli

Mornings are busy times and fitting in a nutritious breakfast can often be a challenge.  It's easy to default to commercial cereals or be tempted to skip breakfast altogether when you're against the clock, but this simple and delicious wholefood breakfast can be prepared the night before so it's (almost) ready to eat straight from the fridge.

Adapted from the March/April edition of Holland & Barrett's magazine 'Healthy', this recipe originally comes from a book called The Yoga Kitchen Plan by Kimberly Parsons.

You will need:

100g rolled oats
half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
240ml almond milk (or milk of your choice)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
2 apples, grated with the skin on
1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
125g fresh or frozen raspberries

To garnish: yoghurt (I used Alpro black cherry) and chopped nuts (I used flaked almonds)

Serves 2 and keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days.

And here's how to make it: 

In a mixing bowl, stir the cinnamon into the oats. Add the milk, vanilla extract and maple syrup and stir again. Add the grated apples and seeds and stir once more. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight. 

If you are using frozen berries remove from the freezer to thaw.

In the morning, uncover and stir the mixture to loosen, adding a little more milk if necessary. Mash the fresh or thawed raspberries slightly using a fork and add to the mixture, stirring to combine. The bircher will turn a lovely pink colour. Taste and adjust for sweetness. 

Serve with a spoonful of yoghurt and a sprinkling of chopped nuts if required.


This Week's Mother Nature's Magic... Bee Flies - strange creatures in my garden

In my quest to turn my garden into a place that supports pollinating insects, I'm learning about bees.  On a sunny morning last week I sat on the grass for a few minutes and watched to see what was buzzing around.  Turns out there was quite a lot!  I saw 3 types of butterfly - a cabbage white, a brimstone, and a coppery brown one that I don't know the name of yet.  I think I might study butterflies next - this would be a monumental and life-changing step of growth for me (remember 'Grow' is my word for 2019) as since I was a very small child I have been afraid of butterflies and moths!  I know it's silly. I know they won't hurt me at all. But there it is. Phobias are weird.  I'm very very slowly becoming less scared. My niece (the one who is a fabulous artist - see some of her work here) loves insects and I'm finding that through her paintings I'm becoming more interested in them too.  They are actually quite engaging.   Anyway, back to sitting in the garden... bumble bees were loving my winter-flowering honeysuckle and there were some other bees too which caught my attention.  They were round and ginger coloured and, on closer inspection, very fluffy and had an extremely long proboscis which they were sticking into my primroses (native ones of course - that's important for pollinating insects).  I looked them up only to find that they aren't actually bees at all but bee flies!  Bombylius major (the greater bee fly) mimics bees in order to reproduce - it gets close to where a solitary bee has a nest in a burrow and flicks its own eggs into the nest, where the eggs hatch and feed on the host's food stores and even the bee larvae themselves! Ewww - gross but fascinating!  Even though their proboscis looks fierce they are actually harmless and they will allow you to get up quite close for a good look, as you can see from my little video below. Have a look in your garden when the sun comes out this week and see if you can spot one.

click the icon on the bottom right of the video to expand the screen for a better view

This Week's Musical Offering...  '20 Minutes' by Carbon Based Lifeforms (although it's only 7 minutes long!) 

This track works well to accompany your warm-up as it starts gently and builds up slowly, picking up some rhythm. 

This Week's Video... Playing Out

Did you used to play in the street when you were a child?  I did - my sister and I were allowed out on our bikes, to go to the park on our own and go to local friends' houses without being chaperoned everywhere.  As one of the people in this video says, times have changed - especially with the current rise of knife crime - but this great scheme is bringing going out to play back to our modern world. What a great idea...